My Visit to South Shore Sportfighting

| February 12, 2014 | 4 Comments


(image depicts author’s recollection of SSSF, may not be actual image)

Cutting edge equipment, state-of-the-art facilities, squeaky clean amenities; phrases no one has ever used to describe SSSF in the history of time.

I was in Boston last week on business and decided to make my way down to the South Shore to mix it up with Bill Mahoney and his team. I assumed it would be a monolith to the sport of MMA and even drove right past in defiance of my GPS.

Sandwiched in little more than a loading bay in an industrial park, SSSF has been churning out top ten fighters since the inception of ranking fighters. A quarter of our current roster of ranked fighters train out of this converted warehouse and the rest of the guys down there are making preparations for their inevitable recognition.

The perpetual smell of the inside of a boxing glove accented the décor choices; bags on bags on bags, UFC Posters from the early 2000’s, and mats that looked like they were left in the sun for years. Indiscriminate flecks of fabric and foam littering every surface of the gym told the story of torn apart punching bags, worn out gi’s, and expired fight gear.

Bill was up front teaching some BJJ fundamentals while in the back of the gym, a dozen guys were rolling in and around a floored cage.

“What’s up Maahk?”

Bill was expecting me because my Brother had been training there earlier in the week and was riding shotgun with me on this trip. Of the several gyms he cross-trained at, South Shore Sportfighting was the one he said I “HAD TO” check out. After a quick warm up, Brendan and I began Jiu Jitting with some of the guys in the cage.

One of the smaller guys, though triangling me at will, humbly spoke of his new journey into MMA.

“I’ve been doing alright. I’ve only landed like three or four punches.”

I guess that’s all it takes to amass a 3-1 record and a #2 ranking as an amateur. Manny Bermudez has put on a better showing than the 19 year old student is willing to admit. The rising Bantamweight goes to school full time, works one night a week but spends the rest of his time in the gym.

Shortly after we got a few rounds in, a shaggy gentleman made his way to the cage. I was hoping the guys would go easy on him because judging this book by his cover, he was likely new to the sport; perhaps athletics of any kind.

About 90 seconds and two gently administered submissions into his first roll (along with greetings of, “hey Johnny”) I realized it was Pro Bantamweight, Johnny “Cup Cakes” Campbell. Trying to act like I already knew who he was when he gave me the chance to roll, I mentioned his Mass-MMA “Honorable Mention” status. The immediate timing of the neck cranking guillotine he unleashed on me led me to believe he felt shorted by his ranking.

After a few minutes of chatting with Mr. Cakes, I realized there was no chance the timing was anything other than coincidence. One of the many “nice guys” of MMA, Johnny was happy to talk about his job in collections for AT&T, but not until a very sincere inquisitive interest in the business I had in Boston. He was supportive of his teammates, talking them up when he had the chance and rolling at a perfect pace for everyone’s skill set.

This wasn’t a trait Johnny kept to himself. Everyone was pushing each other but no one took it over the top. There wasn’t one guy stealing the show but there were four or five who could, and likely would, inside the cage at any given fight night.

As the night began to wrap up, my Brother was working on takedowns off the cage with Bill. I’ve never watched a guy teach with such intense current knowledge of the sport.

“Now a day’s guys are trained to do THIS when you have them on the cage, so if you pull THIS, they’re not going to know what to do…” (you’ll have to stop down to pick up this particular piece of wisdom)

You can tell Bill is one of the real savants in the world of MMA training.

“I’m really not that good at all. I just try to teach a few new things no one knows until everyone’s doing it better than me, hitting me with it all the time.”

Perhaps I’m biased because he’s the first guy I’ve heard recommend my go-to anti-wrestler tactic of baiting with voluntary armbars. Or maybe it’s his disregard for social nicities in the spirit of honesty and learning.

“Johnny wasn’t supposed to beat Tateki but he took him to decision,” Bill wasn’t afraid to say while Campbell was getting some work in on the Thai bags, polishing up for a likely return to the cage late this spring.

“Pat (Padraic Thompson) gets his face smashed in all the time against bad fighters and still wins but then walks through the best guys,” Bill pointed out ironically as we talked about his team.

He had strong opinions on everything and everyone but left little room for debate on the matter. It’s like you think everyone in the room wants to tell him to shut up, but you can’t help but listen to the genius he spews forward. (see also: every Bill Mahoney Facebook or Mass-MMA debate)

Evidently, you don’t need a flashy gym to churn out good fighters. If you get a good group of guys together, training but never trumping, and then give them a leader who cares about nothing but bettering his fighters, you get a winning team like South Shore Sportfighting.

Get your tetanus shot and then check out for more information.



Category: 3Col, News, School Spotlight

About the Author ()

I've never let an opponent get out of the first round, so, you do the math...

Comments (4)

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    • Mark Hoxie says:

      Hahah, my descriptors may have been a bit of an exaggeration but my praise may have been understated. You’ve got a good group of guys and the little interaction we’ve had over the years is enough to know you’re one of the best. It just helps that you’re NOT a happy-go-lucky BS’er with a McDojo.

  1. locolobo says:

    Bunch of great guys and gals !! One of the top MMA training gyms in the North East !!

  2. Jim Clifford says:

    Never change.

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